UK falling behind in race to engage with ‘rising India’: British Parliament panel

London: The United Kingdom is “falling behind” in the global race to engage with the “rising India”, said a key British Parliamentary committee in its report.

Titled ‘Building Bridges: UK-India Ties Reawakening UK-India Ties’, the report said, “The UK is falling behind in the global race to engage with a rising India. The world is changing fast and the UK’s strategy has not yet adjusted to this new reality. We cannot afford to be complacent or rely on historical connections to deliver a modern partnership.”

In the report, the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) has also said that Britain should focus on developing a deep partnership with India – a “democracy that shares” its values – rather than “autocratic” China.

It also stated that it is the “time to reset” UK’s relationship with India.

“There are certain practical steps the government must take to reset its relationship with India, in particular, making it easier for Indians to visit the UK and to work or study here,” it said.

Noting that India’s global trade is growing “three times faster”, the report pointed out the UK has gone from being India’s second-biggest trade partner in 1998-99 to 17th in 2018-19. “We have a smaller slice of a much bigger cake,” the report said in this regard.

The committee chaired by MP Tom Tugendhat also contended that the UK needs to address its “sometimes painful history with India”.

“There is little excuse for failing to issue an apology for atrocities such as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre” in which at least 379 people died and 1,200 were wounded after British Indian Army under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer fired machine guns into a crowd of unarmed protesters in 1919.

Releasing the report in the House of Commons, Tugendhat said: “India is an essential partner to the UK. Our relationship and the living bridge of people who link our nations will only become more important…Despite opportunities, the UK has failed to give the relationship the attention it deserves”.

MPs also urged that Britain should take measures to make it easier for Indians to visit the country.